A summit on the start of a new economic order

The World Economic Forum's Summit on the Global Agenda will set the tone for the UAE's growing role in promoting international dialogue.

The winds of change that blow across the global economic landscape today are real. The current state of flux, in fact, warrants another look at the very way we define economies as developed, developing and emerging.

Today, the global economic landscape has several new "rising powerhouses" that can collectively determine a new financial future for the whole of humanity. The emerging markets have already stepped out of the shadows, led by their youthful populations with high disposable incomes.

The larger Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region is fast consolidating its status as a compelling economic bloc that will be home to more than 1 billion young adults - those below the age of 25 years - by 2020. Africa, which is home to 10 per cent of the world's reserves of oil, 40 per cent of its gold, and 80 to 90 per cent of the chromium and the platinum metal group, is poised to serve as the feeder market for the growing demand for raw materials from fast-growing economies.

Even as the economic order shuffles, however, there are challenges that can be addressed only through the concerted efforts of every responsible nation. Water scarcity, for example, is one of the pressing challenges that demands global co-operative efforts.

Some 47 per cent of the world population is expected to be living in areas of high water stress in 2030. It is estimated that nearly a billion people - half of them in Asia - still rely on drinking water from sources such as ponds, streams, irrigation canals and unprotected dug wells.

Addressing such challenges in addition to discussions on education, humanitarian assistance, institution building, climate change, transportation, sustainable energy, health care, food security, migration, poverty and social entrepreneurship, is on the agenda of the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda being hosted by the UAE in Dubai from today until Thursday.

The insights and ideas originating in the UAE will form the basis for knowledge-led plans for sustainable development to be formulated at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, next year.

The choice of the UAE as the venue for the summit for the third consecutive year also underscores the emerging role of the nation in driving thought leadership for global concerns. The UAE is strategically located at the crossroads of the East and the West. More than the geographical advantage, the country has also recorded a robust growth dynamic that can be a model for emerging economies.

Innovation and free enterprise are two key pillars on which the UAE has built its economic and social progress. Even during the time of global uncertainty, the UAE remained on the growth track, successfully diversifying its economy and restoring investor and market confidence.

As a strong proponent of international collaboration, the UAE sees the summit as a forum that mobilises collaborative efforts and promotes knowledge-sharing towards achieving the collective goals of humanity. The UAE is thus setting the stage to promote global dialogue for socio-economic change.

The UAE leadership places the citizen at the core of its development strategy and has invested in its human capital to prepare new generations of Emiratis to be globally competitive.

The ambitious change which the UAE aims to achieve is reflected in the key pillars of the UAE Vision 2021, aimed to position the UAE among the best countries in the world by 2021, the Golden Jubilee year of the formation of its federation.

The discussions at the Summit on the Global Agenda will serve as thought-starters for the UAE and will enable its federal Government to focus on the critical issues that will help it achieve the goals of the Vision 2021.

Even in this time of global uncertainty, the UAE has remained on the growth track, successfully diversifying its economy and restoring investor and market confidence. Unlike many other oil-rich nations, the UAE has a well-diversified economy, with 71 per cent of its GDP coming from the non-oil sector.

The UAE is poised to be a Dh1 trillion (US$272.25 billion) economy by the end of this year, with real GDP expected to grow by 2.25 per cent, led by strong traditional sectors such as trade, logistics, transportation and tourism.

The UAE has also been a prominent aid donor over the past three decades. It has contributed more than Dh163bn to fighting hunger and poverty across the world since its founding.

Having demonstrated remarkable resilience, consistency and commitment, it is only natural that the UAE further engage with the international community for the common benefit of the world. WEF's Summit on the Global Agenda will set the tone for the UAE's growing role in promoting international dialogue.

Sultan Al Mansouri is the UAE Minister of Economy and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, taking place in Dubai